Tehran Bakers Urged to Ditch Plastic Bags

Prevalent use of plastic bags in bakeries has become a problem.Prevalent use of plastic bags in bakeries has become a problem.

Wrapping freshly-baked bread in plastic bags has almost become a tradition in Iran. However, environment authorities are understandably not happy.

“This needs to change; plastic cannot be an integral part of buying bread,” Mohammad Mehdi Golmakani, head of Tehran Municipality’s Environmental Management Center, was quoted as saying by ISNA during a meeting with Qasem Zera’atkar, president of Tehran Bakeries’ Union.

He said one of the key environmental policies pursued globally is reducing the use of plastic.

Keeping hot bread in plastic is not without its health hazards, either. According to Golmakani, exposure to heat leads to the release of dangerous monomers as well as some other components that experts believe can cause serious health problems.

He called on bakers to step up efforts to ditch the use of plastic bags and work with relevant public entities and NGOs.

Zera’atkar welcomed the idea, saying that the union is open to finding alternatives to plastic bags at bakeries.

In Tehran, 7,500 tons of waste are produced daily, 1,000 tons of which are plastic. Experts believe if every household in the capital used one plastic bag less every week, it would lead to 816 million less bags used in a year.

Reusing or recycling 1 ton of plastic means the equivalent of saving 11 barrels of oil.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable; in other words, they do not decompose by biological agents such as bacteria.

They do, however, break down after 100 to 500 years. Once broken down, they release toxic chemicals that contain flame retardants and plasticizers among others, which seep into soils, lakes, rivers and the oceans. Some of those chemicals can cause hormonal imbalance that gives rise to several health problems.

Golmakani hopes Tehran proceeds so well in this direction that it soon becomes a role model for other Iran’s metropolitans. Iran marks the National No Plastic Bag Day on July 12, which aims to raise awareness regarding the health and environmental hazards of plastic bags.

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